In The Bubble Burst, Ibirogba reflects political maladministration, exploitation
The Bubble Burst is the latest fictional genre to burst forth from the laptop of Femi Ibirogba of The Guardian Newspapers. It is his first novel after many short stories. First published in September 2020, in paperback by Kraftgriots, a literary imprint of Kraft Books Limited, Ibadan, Nigeria.
Janet Kuti and Sandra Omar became friends on being admitted as undergraduates studying law at the Open Air University.
Both girls have to make life decisions in the course of their future careers.
Ibirogba uses conversational language to espouse profound ideologies and imagery. With developed characters, perhaps too mature for their ages, the author describes the academic realities in our institutions of higher learning.
The Bubble Burst has 18 chapters, 130 pages showcasing the hurdles, deceptions, and pitfalls students go through in our universities. It is an eye-opening reading for would-be university students. The protagonist of the novel, Janet, wants to take after her politician father. Through campus politics, she learns the ropes to political power.
Unlike real-life Nigerian political parties bereft of ideologies, the Open Air University political parties are torn between conservatism and socialism. “The socialists had better manifesto. They were well versed in political philosophy and resolute against all forms of maladministration and exploitation. The members were highly indoctrinated with socialist principles of equal rights and justice; and equitable distribution of the commonwealth. Capitalism was seen and taught as an aberration and a class weapon.”
Janet wants to share the ideas of the socialists who she admires, generally. The socialist leader, Afroman, is the one Janet admires the most. The polymath is a law undergraduate, intrepid, and versed in the socialist doctrines of dialectic materialism. Popularly referred to as the Aluta Bulldozer of the struggle, he is the most salient Aluta commander in the university.
Another activist admired by Janet is the clever young man, a medical student noted for his wisdom and erudition. He is versed in political philosophy and the art of politics. He is one of the greatest orators their students’ union ever produced. He is regarded as the Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.”
Though free to do whatever she liked on the campus, Janet chose to be disciplined.
“Her itinerary on campus was from her room to the lecture theatre and from lecture theatre to the library. It was a deliberate regimental lifestyle. And in the room, when she was not cooking or reading, for she was a voracious reader, she would be listening to music. It was her way of relaxation. Music relieved her of academic tension and rejuvenated her for greater performance.”
Though there were dress codes, they were usually disobeyed by students who wanted attention. Attention seeking is a common sign of adolescence.
The most notorious among student pimps is Pallad. He had the photographs of all campus racketeers at his disposal. The racketeers believe in using what they had to get what they did not have. Pallad had spent six years studying a four-year course before Janet entered the university. Academics and politicians did deals with him. He thrived from these deals throughout his stay on the campus. At a point, he was arrested, accused of being a cultist. After a police investigation, he was freed but warned to stay off crime by the police.
“Perhaps, misery, vices, and social maladies are not divine. They are the results of how society is organized. They are concomitants of a system that intentionally destroys everything that is rational and just for self-gratification and avarice. When a government cannot alleviate poverty and those in power cannot see beyond themselves, a country becomes the breeding ground for the morally depraved… Unemployment is the mother of poverty and grandmother of prostitution, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. An increasing crime rate in an aftermath of how a society organizes itself.”
The examinations came and went, but Janet found it difficult to readjust to her old routine. Her sleep became erratic when she went back home for the short after the exam break. After a few weeks, Janet readjusted. Her total grade in the first-semester exam placed her solidly in the first-class rating and that became her hallmark throughout college. However, Janet didn’t have things smooth sailing.
A flirtatious lecturer, intoxicated by her beauty, approached Janet for love. Janet turned him down. However, the tutor found an opportunity for vengeance when Janet registered for a course in his department.
‘Feeling rejected, the tutor retaliated and Janet failed the course. But certain of her preparedness, Janet lodged a complaint with the university authorities. The university called for her exam script, reassigned it to another lecturer; surprisingly, she emerged the best. An investigation exposed the agenda of the tutor and he was suspended for one year without pay. T
“Politics is a means to an end. And the participation of right-thinking people becomes inevitable because allowing rouges and mediocre individuals to manage the affairs of people will always breed system failures. More importantly, my ambition arises from my intention to better the lots of Moris Queens of whom you are one,” Janet said.
Midway through her studies at Open Air University, Janet Kuti also contested and won at Afri-Theatre, the beauty pageant named: The Most Beautiful Girl on the Nigerian Campus, from where she won $10,000.
But along the way she contracted HIV disease which was diagnosed while trying to help her bosom friend Sandra Omar who had an accident. She even gave her car to Sandra while contemplating suicide over her plight. But she was miraculously relieved on hearing from television that a cure for HIV had been found.
This book is good for the adolescent who has just found the sexual freedom bestowed to the young adult away from parents acquiring higher education.
I recommend it for adoption as a textbook for tertiary institutions by the Federal Ministry of Education. It is a guide for social behaviour. He heads the Agriculture desk with decades of experience in journalism. He holds degrees in Language Arts & Education from Obafemi Awolowo University and a post-graduate certificate in Advanced Writing and Reporting Skills from the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria.
I commend The Bubble Burst to your kind attention and perusal.